Academic Standing Requirements

Graduate students are required to maintain a minimum GPA throughout the graduate program and make satisfactory progress toward their declared program to remain in good academic standing.

  • Master’s students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA)  of 2.7 throughout the program, while making satisfactory progress toward the degree, and completing the appropriate 5000+ level courses in accordance with their degree program’s curriculum. If choosing the thesis option, (and it is offered by your program,) successful completion of the master’s thesis, following all guidelines and passing the required 2 CU’s of ‘5970: Thesis’ credit is required. Students must complete the requirements of the degree program within seven (7) years of matriculation.


  • Ph.D. students must maintain a minimum CGPA of 3.0 throughout the program, while  making satisfactory progress toward the degree. This includes completing the appropriate 5000+ level courses in accordance with their degree program’s curriculum and as assigned by the faculty advisor, as well as passing/completing all milestone requirements (such as the qualifying exam, dissertation proposal, etc.). Students must complete and defend a dissertation conforming to the rules of Penn’s Doctoral Dissertation Manual. Students must complete the academic requirements of the degree program within ten (10) years of matriculation.


Grading and GPA Grading Scale

The grades assigned in a course are solely the prerogative of the instructor; any student with questions about a particular grade should take their concern directly to the instructor who assigned the grade.
Grade changes are submitted electronically by the instructor and are approved by the school registrars before being noted on a student record. The University does not permit grade changes after graduation.


The GPA grading scale is as follows:

A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
4.0 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0.0




Satisfactory Academic Progress

Graduate students not making satisfactory academic progress will receive a warning and/or be placed on academic probation. Students not making satisfactory progress towards their degree also will receive a letter from the Student Records and Financial Services Office. For international students, failure to make satisfactory progress in your program may jeopardize your F-1 visa status.


Stipulations for academic warning:

  • Students who receive two (2) cumulative incomplete, or ‘I’ grades, on the transcript, will receive an academic warning. Per University policy, incomplete grades need to be corrected within one year’s time.

Students who receive a warning letter are encouraged to work with their program to formulate a plan. Please ask your program administrator for details on how to proceed for your program (either as a meeting to discuss the incomplete courses or a written plan via email).


Stipulations for academic probation:

  • Students who receive two (2) or more incomplete, or ‘I,’ grades on the transcript in the same term, will be placed on academic probation.  Per University policy, incomplete grades need to be corrected within one year’s time.
  • Students who earn a less than a 3.0 CGPA (PhD) or a 2.7 CGPA (master’s), will be placed on academic probation.

Once placed on academic probation, a student is required to create an academic plan with their advisor and program/department for the subsequent semester. This plan should be on file with the graduate student’s program and the Graduate Office of Academic Services (OAS).


Stipulations for PhD research:

PhD students can be placed on the Research Support Plan (RSP) when needed for not making sufficient research progress.



In the absence of improvement in the subsequent semester, students on warning, probation, or the PhD Research Support Plan (RSP), may be dropped from their program and the University of Pennsylvania.

Course Incompletes, Retakes, NR, GR, and Failures

  • The mark of ‘I’, for Incomplete, may be assigned to a student who has performed well academically all semester, but who, for extenuating reasons, is unable to complete all requirements of the course by the end of the term. The decision to assign the ‘I’ grade rests with the course instructor. Students should have a plan in writing at the end of the semester with the instructor(s) on how the ‘I’ grade will be rectified.
  • “NR” for Not Reported (no grade submitted), and “GR” (student was not present in class though enrolled): These marks will remain as permanent grades until a change of grade is submitted by the instructor of the course for the completion of the requirements.
  • Students cannot graduate with an “I,” “NR,” or “GR” on their transcript.
  • A grade of “F” cannot count towards the course requirements.
  • No course may be retaken to improve a grade of “C” unless the content is different. No grade lower than a “C-” will be counted in courses designated as “core” courses or those courses must be retaken. However, students may compete additional work, with the instructor’s permission, to improve this grade. Graduation may not be postponed for grade improvement if all other graduation criteria are met.
  • If a grade of “D” or “F” is received in a core or required course, which prevents graduation, the student has three options:
    1. At the discretion of the instructor, the student can work with the instructor to improve the grade to “C” or higher with additional course work.
    2. For Engineering school courses*, at the discretion of the instructor, the student can retake the course by attending the course again (in a subsequent term) without registering or paying additional tuition, and will receive a grade change if earned. Please note attending again or sitting in on the course does not count towards full-time status.
      *This is for Engineering owned courses only. For students taking courses outside of Engineering (Example: PSOM, Wharton), you would need to work with the instructor and that school registrar’s office for retake policy information. Biology (BIOL) does not allow “unofficial audits” for a retake of a course.
    3. If instructor does not agree to either (1) or (2), the student can register and pay tuition for the course again. Upon successful completion of the course with the same instructor, the original registration will be changed to “withdraw.”  The original course will not be counted toward graduation or GPA. Engineering will not allow the course to be counted twice toward the degree.

Please note: that students involved in academic integrity issues with the Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CSA) (formerly know as the Office of Student Conduct, OSC) for the course in question, will not be allowed to withdraw from the original term’s course (#3) and that grade will remain on the transcript. If not a required course for the degree (taken as an elective) it is at the instructor’s discretion to not allow the student to take the course again if academic integrity was involved.

  • The mark of “S” is used to indicate satisfactory performance and the mark of “U” is used to indicate unsatisfactory performance in EAS 8970/EAS 8980: Curricular Practical Training (CPT); EAS 8950: Academic Field Study; Ph.D. dissertation research (9990); EAS 8960: Master’s Professional Development; and if applicable to the program, Ph.D. teaching practicum (8950).



MSE PhD Bridge Program Requirements

At the end of each semester, the graduate group chair and the assigned faculty research supervisor send a status update on the bridge student’s progress to the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. Student requirements:

  • The student will perform research work in the fall and spring semesters with an assigned faculty member. By graduation, the student should either have completed a master’s thesis or at least two cu’s of independent study. The graduate chair should aid the bridge student in identifying the research adviser.
  • The student will participate in faculty-led summer research in their first summer, between their 1st and second years in the program.
  • The student will sign up for EAS 8960 and attend 14 research seminars in the department for one semester receiving the required ‘S’ satisfactory grade.

If after one year (two terms, excluding Summer) a student is excelling in the master’s program and has a GPA of 3.50 or higher,  the graduate group chair and the assigned faculty research supervisor may approach the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs to request that the student transfer into the PhD program for the next term.

These requirements are for the Fall 2022 entry forwards.



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